So we’re getting socked with more snow in New England today. As in 10-16 inches expected at my house. Those of us in forced hibernation might particularly enjoy this funny anecdote from last week’s blizzard, Juno 2015. Resourceful New England women, battling the elements… Please welcome the author, my sister Susan.
On Burying the Cow
by Susan Giordano
Every ten seconds or so, I’d wave my arm predictably or raise a leg intentionally just to let any curious passers-by or concerned neighbors know NOT to call 911! Peace and satisfaction overwhelmed as I lay triumphantly on the woman-made pile of snow–my own Great (snow) Wall of China–separating our cars from threatening invader drifts. The snow melted on bright flushed cheeks, fogging my sunglasses, blurring the usually crisp clean tall tree lines, wavy. Their branches swayed back and forth predictably as if under the hypnotic trance of the lofty whirling winds. Staring up into the stormy grey abyss, I could only see cold confectionary sugar sifting silently and relentessly down.
A couple days earlier on another icy cold afternoon, we had travelled to the Connecticut border to retrieve a quarter of a grass-fed cow for storage in the freezer. Having reached our farm destination, I noticed in the back yard, as high as a telephone wire on a street pole, a 250 foot laundry line of wet hanging clothes that floated up a long hill–there must have been three loads-worth I estimated, imagining the labor this job entailed.
“My dryer broke,” our farmer friend explained casually.
“Why so high?” I wondered aloud.
“They say the higher the clothes, the windier, the faster they dry,” was the sensible reply.
I further learned her husband was working out of town for the weekend, which was especially tough THIS morning, because sadly enough, one of her cows had just died of pneumonia and she had to bury it, this morning.
(Thoughtfully, her husband had prepared ahead before he left, she explained, and had dug a hole with a backhoe–just in case.) So, that was good. It’s not everyday one meets a woman who deftly works around a broken dryer mid-winter and buries a cow–all in the same morning!
Just two days later, winter storm Juno of 2015 dropped its fresh white historic payload into our forty-foot driveway. Like my farmer friend’s scene, my husband was also “out of town” of sorts, busily making conference calls from his basement work office most of the day.
Reminded by my inspirational farm visit, I summoned strength and determined to clear the thickly blanketed driveway, to “bury my own cow.” The self-imposed mission was set. And with the exception of pleasant occasional visits from my youngest helpers, Will, 10, and Caroline, 7–I was on my own.
This job called for an old-fashioned shovel. Armed and perhaps dangerous, it was show time.
After a long mid-day go of it, I shoveled a few strategically-planned paths toward the street, breaking through the daunting mountainous plow pile where the driveway meets the road, and amassing a *Jerimoth Hill-sized mogul for the joy of my sledding-aged children. I proudly thought, while uncomfortably stretching my aching back — my farmer friend — she has nothing on me…
I could have rested for an hour that afternoon on my little hill in the silent swirling snow, waving off imaginary worried neighbors, staring at the frozen dashes sprinkling evenly from above. But there was more to be done. I planted my “flag” atop the conquered peak and slowly, regrouping, trudged back down over the Great Wall into the house and down the stairs to conquer the next personal never-ending battle, below. Switching yet another wet load of laundry into the dryer, I meekly pressed the “start” button.
*Jerimoth Hill (812 ft, 247 m), the highest natural point in Rhode Island.
Learn more about high flyin’, clothes dryin’, cow buryin’ farmer Julia Boyce: Evolving Farmer Click to Julia’s story, #6 of Reader’s Digest Best Life Stories.